In the past, every circuit change would involve building prototypes and testing them; now we can start by modelling all of this on the computer before we begin to build physical prototypes. We can explore how even the very smallest change affects the whole design, right through to the thermal effects of the location of components.”
Naim Audio Electronic Design Director Steve Sells is explaining the way the design process for Naim Audio’s new products has changed, and how those changes have influenced not just the DAC-V1 desktop digital-to-analogue converter, one of the company’s most popular new arrivals, but also that of the allnew NAIT range of integrated amplifiers. Sells points to the location of the output transistors in one of the amplifiers: “Using computer modelling, we could work out not just the best position for these components in sonic terms, but also to meet regulations on the maximum temperature for the product.
This doesn’t just speed up the design of products – it also allows much greater creativity and experimentation, in that many more ideas and ‘what ifs’ can be modelled and tested in the time previously taken to work up one prototype of a circuit or even a whole product.” As Naim Audio Senior Engineer Dave Barber puts it: “It allows us to run through many versions very quickly, try things – even the ones we’d probably never even have bothered with in the old ways. And it can throw up some real surprises and new avenues for exploration.”
Also, the two explain that it’s now much easier to carry over the technology from one product to something completely different, from the headphone amplifier in the DAC-V1 going into the new NAIT line, and the digital isolation techniques developed for the NDS finding their way into the DAC-V1, along with DAC technology from the NDX and SuperUniti.